The public needs to be aware of the code of conduct that must be observed by both the Tatmadaw and the ethnic armed group[s] during the ceasefire period, according to Col. Win Naing Oo, Mon State Minister of Security and Border.
He said this remark at the recent meeting between the State-level Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC-S) and the public, held in Ah-bit Village, Mudon Township, Mon State on February 19.
“They should not create burdens to the public. They shouldn’t arrest people, collect extortion money and taxes, force them to do labor, and seize lands and buildings belonging to the public. The public needs to be aware of the code of conduct that must be observed by both armies,” said Col. Win Naing Oo.
He told the public to report to the JMCS-S via telephone or letter if armed organizations collect taxes for cars, motorbikes, and rubber plantations, and the JMC-S would handle them.
Thirteen members of the Mon State JMC-S including its vice-chair Naw Sar Htoo, Col. Win Naing Oo, Col. Saw Joseph from the Karen National Union (KNU) Brigade 6 and Major Saw Sal Nay Htoo from the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army – Peace Council (KNU/KNLA – PC) explained the JMC-S procedures during the public meeting, which attracted around 300 local residents.
“In order for us to survive for national duty, the Karen public supports us for nationalism based on the point of ‘Only the Karen can create its own fate’. If we can’t survive, there’s no guarantee in the region,” said P’doh Saw Maung Shwe, chair of the KNU Win Yay Township, who attended the meeting.
He added that the KNU is surviving with the support from the Karen people and it has been trying to support volunteers teaching ethnic language as much as it can.
“It’s not a burden for us to pay annual taxes to ethnic armed organizations. Collecting a large percentage of taxes for business licenses for vehicles and other businesses causes more burdens to us. We are only just starting the economy after peace has been built. We want taxes to be reduced. The government should reduce corruption as well,” Local resident Saw Khine Myint told Karen News.
Former MP Saw Mya Win said that the government should support ethnic armed organizations that have signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) to build the federal union, and the tax issue will only be solved after a practical implementation of the NCA path.
The Mon State JMC-S has been holding regular public meetings and the meeting in Ah-bit Village was the 12th public meeting.